* Posts by LessWileyCoyote

35 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Jun 2022

Wells Fargo fires employees accused of faking keyboard activity to pretend to work


Memories of the (1980s?) spoof "Management Year Accounting Software System" (MYASS), something you could also say you pulled statistics out of.

Venerable ICQ messaging service to end operations in June


I laughed at "Wall (bathroom)".

Fujitsu set to be preferred bidder in UK digital ID scheme


Re: More control freak bollocks

There could be a much simpler way of creating an ID card. If someone hasn't passed a driving test and isn't seeking a provisional licence, allow them to apply for a driver's licence with zero classes of vehicle on it, i.e. it doesn’t permit you to drive anything but does act as evidence of ID. Could use the existing system throughout at minimal cost (adding one extra option to the system). A logical nonsense, but one that's cheap and functional.

AI flips the script on fingerprint lore – maybe they're not so unique after all


As early as 1907 R Austin Freeman's novel 'The Red Thumb Mark' was warning against unquestioning acceptance of a fingerprint as proof of identity, and demonstrated how one could be forged.

Microsoft pulls the plug on WordPad, the world's least favorite text editor


Re: in the ever increasing locked down corporate world

No, they don't want to take control, they want to not get sued. Thus passing responsibility over to their operating system provider.

Remember, "security" is corporate-speak for "not getting sued".


Oh darn, I can't resist it.

Computers? Luxury!

Up to about age 12 our school desks still had china inkwells in them, and a pupil appointed Ink Monitor, charged with filling them with Stephens Blue-black Ink (why in god's name not Royal Blue Washable? Would have saved so much grief). And struggling with the steel dip pens that went with them, while trying to learn cursive handwriting. Later I had to teach myself to write all over again, to get rid of the illegibility caused by cursive.

Any hint of computers didn't appear until the later secondary school, wben a Physics teacher introduced us to binary addition and subtraction via a home made switch-&-light board.

I valued Wordpad for its ability to leave simple formatted files alone, retaining formatting witbout adding anything unwanted. And as others have said, it could open almost anything - you could get useful clues from the opening bytes of a mystery file as to what it was infended to be - a sadly not infrequent occurrence with easily corrupted floppy disks.

PLACEHOLDER ONLY Someone please write witty headline here


I have posted it before, but it's worth another airing. Working on a large government system, a colleague eventually moved on to pastures new after complaining about the impossibility of getting a detailed spec from the systems analysts. One of his programs later caused some excitement by giving users the response "Error 4338 - some day they're going to specify this message".

British Library begins contacting customers as Rhysida leaks data dump


Sorry to nitpick a typo - Troy Hunt, not Tory Hunt.

Casio keyed up after data loss hits customers in 149 countries


Oh lor', count the fingers on that heading pic!

Ex-Fugees star accuses his lawyer of going full robot in corruption trial


In abstentia?

Shouldn't it be in absentia?

One door opens, another one closes, and this one kills a mainframe


I remember those drive cabinets! I think your system probably started life as an English Electric System 4 if it had drive arrays that old.


Re: not a who me but related

Back in the 90s I worked for a minicomputer manufacturer, happened upon one of the FEs dismantling a parallelogram shaped fridge-sized machine from a bank. Movers had pushed it out of their van onto the tail-lift, hadn't realised it had rollers underneath... It kept going, straight off the edge. Fortunately these machines were built to a military spec which included being able to be parachuted out of planes: the chassis was scrap, but all the boards and components were servicable.

As it prepares to abandon its on-prem server products, Atlassian is content. Users? Not so much


Re: Ditching

I feel like opening and successfully closing three levels of parenthesis with a degree of elegance calls for some sort of award, similar to the recognition given to achiement in gymnastics. Most of us (and I include myself in this) are far too prone to throwing in an opening bracket, then forgetting to close it. Although programming (and using Excel formulae) does tend to reduce the error rate a bit.

Australia threatens X with fine, warns Google, for failure to comply with child abuse handling report regs


Re: My solution

It seems to be quite effective in hexadecimal notation (at least since hex calculators were invented, subtracting in hex was... less fun).

Police ignored the laws of datacenter climate control


We moved into a house where the proud former owner had fully rewired it in the 1950s - using salvaged ex-GPO lead covered cable and the various-sized round-pin sockets. Surprise jolts from touching parts of it. Even better, he'd nailed a long run of it to the garden fence to aviaries at the end of the garden. Using uninsulated staples.

We had the only electrified fence in the neighbourhood.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset


I live in a London borough. In the last six years there have been three power outages, mostly caused by flooding in underground ducts. The shortest was around three hours, the longest over six hours. If a cable duct catches fire it's not a quick fix.

Beneath Microsoft's Surface event, AI spreads everywhere


Re: allow Copilot to interrogate shoppers

I truthfully read the original statement as "allow Copilot to *irritate* shoppers..."


Adding to the collection

Thanks to the bemusement (and amusement) of francophones, I already have the pleasure of referring to Chat GPT as "cat, I farted".

Now I can add CoPilot, to be henceforth known as "your plastic pal who's fun to be with".

Thus we mock those they set over us.

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk


Re: The plate in the "gentleman's room?"

Good lord, that's brought back a memory of around 50 years ago. It might have been in Harrods or a similar department store, some distant memory says "the Tudor Restaurant", but definitely a Gents with a liveried attendant who said "Thank you Sir, thank you very much indeed!" in a stentorian voice every time a coin hit the platter. What a weird recollection.

Windows screensaver left broadcast techie all at sea


Re: Not a screen saver, but...

I worked on developing a government system that went live in the 1980s, and remember the flailing and squawking in management dovecotes when it emitted a message to the effect of "Error 2388 - Some day they're going to specify this message".

I knew the chap who programmed that bit of the system, and remembered his complaints about the impossibility of getting a workable specification out of the systems analysts. He moved on to another employer shortly before the go-live date, as I recall.

IBM shows off its sense of humor in not-so-funny letter leak


Re: Most established companies have variations on this.

Memory dimly recalls what was probably a 1960s jape, a product description of "magnetic ball memory" for mainframes. IIRC the write command was BLOW BALL and the read command was SUCK BALL. Simpler times.

IBM says GenAI can convert that old COBOL code to Java for you


Brings back horrible memories of ancient code with stacked nested IF statements, some with ELSE, some without, and no check on whether it was possible to create an input that wouldn't trigger a single one of those statements. Which led to adding something like PERFORM FATAL-ERROR-ROUTINE (from which there was no return) at the end of such horrors, to catch "can't possibly happen" events.

Lesson 1: Keep your mind on the ... why aren't the servers making any noise?


Re: Circuit Breakers

Back in the 1970s, and while it was still in active use, I had a tour of RailMail, the underground rail system that carried parcels and letters between central London sorting offices - miniature driverless trains on a third-rail electrified system.

The station setup included traction current circuit breakers, which looked like the sort of massive knife switches any self-respecting mad scientist had in his lab in B&W horror films. Below them were kept a massive pair of elbow-length leather gauntlets. I was told that occasionally a bit of metal might fall off a train, or a lost tool be kicked up, and bridge between the power and running rails, tripping the 750v breaker.

Rather than sending someone out with a torch to search for the offending item, standard operating procedure was to don the gauntlets, close the breaker (with sparks) and hold it closed for a count of ten. Apparently this was usually enough to either knock the offending item off the rails or melt it, allowing operations to continue until close of service when a track walk could be done to find whatever remained of it.

Security? Working servers? Who needs those when you can have a shiny floor?


Re: More to this than meets the eye

"Hot Millions" was full of social engineering tricks, all the way through.

Hacking a Foosball table scored an own goal for naughty engineers


Hmm. 45+ years ago I stayed with friends at a small hotel in Bournemouth. It had an attached restaurant, and the restaurant manager was a tallish, dark-haired man with a small moustache and an air of poorly-suppressed irritation (name unknown).

We invited a friend staying in a nearby hotel to dine with our party. Orders placed, we waited, and waited... After 45 mins one of our party ventured past the swing door, returning to report that the kitchen was full of smoke, but empty of staff.

Just then, the restaurant manager appeared, swanning his way through at a high rate of knots. Our guest put out and hand to stop him, and very politely said he feared there might be a problem, as we'd been waiting 45 mins for our starters. The manager fixed him with a baleful glare and said with emphasis: "Are you staying at this establishment?"

"No, but..."

"This restaurant is provided solely for the convenience of persons residing at the hotel, not outsiders. If I have anything to do with it, you'll wait another 45 minutes!"

And flounced off with his nose in the air.

I have often suspected that there's more Bournemouth in Basil Fawlty than we've been told...

Techie wasn't being paid, until he taught HR a lesson


Now if that lecturer had been German with two doctorates, she would have been Frau Doktor Doktor Doctor...

Virgin Media email customers enter third day of inbox infuriation


People needing access to tickets...

No doubt I'm a wasteful dinosaur, but anything like that gets printed as a precaution. Tickets, receipts, guarantees - I'm still treating stuff held in the cloud as ephemeral.

Feds, you'll need a warrant for that cellphone border search


Re: thou shalt not fornicate with unwilling wife

"But the hedgehog can never be buggered at all" - Pterry

Musk decides to bury dead Twitter accounts, warns users follower counts could sink


Elno sued by Crown shock horror

[nerd voice] Well, technically... he's not being sued by Chazzer, but by the Crown Estate, which is a quasi-government body set up to make money out of a big parcel of land and buildings & stuff that George III gave to the government, in return for not having to fund the government out of his own pocket. But that doesn't sound as exciting.

Windows 11 wrecks speech recognition for some apps


Shouldn't it be ctfmon.exe both times? Not ctfrmon.exe as written the first time - you're killing ctfrmon.exe and letting it restart.

Romance scam targets security researcher, hilarity ensues


Re: Does anyone remember the 419 scam baiters?

The oldest scam baiter site I know is whatsthebloodypoint.com - only ten scam examples and hasn't been updated in almost 20 years, but the lead-ons are wonderful, as are the names for them. For example, Norman Gorman Smith-Bidet III and his planned (non-PC) dwarf-throwing complex. "Please keep in mind that I am just a simple minded multi-millionaire..."

Bill shock? The red ink of web services doesn’t come out of the blue


"Open your wallet..."

+1 for the Colonel Bloodnok quote from the Goon Show.

Massive outage grounded US flights because someone accidentally deleted a file


Re: A rather big Oops

If it was a *real* legacy system, then 3 hours sounds good to me too. Assuming a complex mainframe system, the ones I worked one needed in excess of an hour for a controlled shutdown and restart.

It's probably still a legacy system because it could be written in assembler language with minimal documentation - good luck explaining the cost of reverse engineering that to a budget holder when a rewrite gets discussed.

Could be pre-database, so lots of flat files with custom links between them - delete a file that hasn't been updated since 1985 and looks irrelevant, and the whole system falls over because the link is gone.

And the mistake made by a "contractor" - could be a massive government subcontractor rather than a hapless individual, so less likely one person will be held responsible. Especially if the client demanded a clean-up to reduce storage requirements (for example).

AI may finally cure us of our data fetish


Re: ISO Crap

I remember being involved in preparations for an audit against a quality standard (not ISO), where it was impressed on us that it was absolutely essential that we couldn't find the keys to certain cupboards for the duration of the audit.

Linux Lite 6.0: It's quite pretty, but 'lite' it is not


We're all different. I've been trying Linux distros since Slackware in, ooh, 1996-ish (30+ floppy disk install). There are quite a few I respect for their capabilities, but Linux Lite is the only one I've actually liked enough to keep installed. A good newbie-friendly forum for the distro is a plus.

Light vs heavy depends how you measure it - I know everything Debian-based is 64-bit now, but I was able to install the 32-bit Linux Lite distro on an Eee-PC netbook a couple of years back (admittedly the hard drive had been upsized to 64GB) which made it into a perfectly functional web & email device. Not bad for something bought on a whim for £195 from Toys 'R Us. :)

For me it's helpful that being mostly Windows and Mac based at work, there's enough similarity to what I'm already used to that I can just get on with using it.